There’s a new way to get around downtown Las Vegas, and it’s free.
The Downtown Loop shuttle service is a six-month pilot program paid for by the City of Las Vegas.
The service runs daily, and bumps uglies (probably not the official term) with seven stops in downtown Las Vegas.
The folks at Pawn Plaza and the Mob Museum must know a guy.
The Downtown Loop stops at Bonneville Transit Center, The Arts District, Pawn Plaza, Fremont East (on Las Vegas Boulevard, south of Fremont Street), the Mob Museum, Fremont Street Experience (Main Street, south of Fremont) and Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.
The free shuttle runs from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. The 19-passenger buses hit their stops about every 20 minutes.
The new shuttle is a great way to explore parts of downtown you might not otherwise venture to, especially Fremont East, the Mob Museum and Pawn Plaza.
The shuttle costs a pretty penny, $550,000 ($275,000 for the first six months with an option to extend), but would likely be continued if deemed successful, based upon ridership and economic impact.
It remains to be seen what the interest level is. It’s likely the City of Las Vegas will want businesses benefiting from the shuttles to pay for them if they become a permanent offering.
A pair of robotic bartenders have created some serious buzz since a new bar, Tipsy Robot, opened inside Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas resort.
“Kuka” is a German word meaning, “Bow before your new robotic bartender overlords.”
Tipsy Robot is billed as the “first land-based robotic bar.” There’s another pair of robot bartenders on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise liner, but these are infinitely better, because Las Vegas.
You can’t spell “tipsy” without “tips,” and, ironically, robot bartenders don’t accept those.
As marketing gimmicks go, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and crowds were gathering to watch the robots mix drinks even before the venue opened to the public.
We were utterly mesmerized as the dynamic duo deftly delivered drinks. See for yourself in our hastily slapped-together video.
That adorable little dance, though.
So, here’s all the Tipsy Robot skinny.
Guests place orders via one of 33 tablets. There’s a robust list of 18 signature cocktails, but guests may order custom-built drinks, too.
Park it at a tablet and make some mechanical mixology magic.
For an existing drink, it’s just a matter of making a selection and providing a name and e-mail address.
For custom drinks, guests can choose from virtually unlimited options, from the kind of liquor (Tipsy Robot boasts 172 bottles, or 59 different brands) to exact proportions of liquor and mixers and ice.
There are 14 “portions” in all. For example, we ordered a rum and Coke with two parts rum, six parts Coke and six parts ice. We really like ice.
Tipsy Robot serves Captain Morgan Silver. We’re trying to get past it.
Once an order is placed and paid for with a credit card (drinks are $14 for a standard drink with one shot of alcohol), it goes into a queue. That’s a fancy European term for “line.”
The robots take anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds to prepare a drink, so the virtual line moves quite quickly.
A fun part of the process is that video displays keep track of where your order is in the queue, and you can tell when your specific drink is being made.
Analytics! See where you are in the queue, the most popular drinks being ordered and trends related to the consumption of various drink categories. You are officially a world-class nerd.
While a drink is being prepared, an e-mail is sent to the address given when the order was placed.
The e-mail contains a QR code which, when scanned, “unlocks” the drink. This ensures nobody can abscond with a cocktail.
Set your drink free with your QR code. QR codes are like bar codes. Emphasis on “bar.”
The robots prepare drinks element by element, grabbing ice from a dispenser, extracting liquor from bottles hanging overhead, slicing fruit, shaking up the drink and pouring the cocktails ever-so-carefully into plastic cups.
What don’t the robot bartenders do? They don’t take breaks, they don’t accept tips and they don’t provide straws.
There are attendants in space-aged uniforms to handle the straw thing.
The robot helpers are called “Galactic Ambassadors.” Just play along.
During our visit, we chatted up Rino Armeni, owner of the 2,500-square-foot Tipsy Robot and Chairman of Robotic Innovations. He said, “I’m very proud that Las Vegas finally has something different, new, and most importantly, ahead of its time.”
Armeni is a charismatic Italian whose enthusiasm is contagious.
“In food and beverage,” Armeni says, “I think we’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. It’s been a matter of recycling, rather than being inventive.”
Yes, he actually said “sleeping on the wheel,” but we know what he meant.
Armeni continues, “We want to be almost like the fountains of Bellagio, the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. We want people to come and experience this kind of entertainment.”
Owner Rino Armeni greets Tipsy Robot guests, assuring them he’s never heard the word “Skynet” before.
Armeni is careful to point out he considers the robot bartenders entertainment, rather than a replacement for actual bartenders.
In fact, Tipsy Robot has a “Human Bar,” with humans serving up the libations.
The robot bartenders aren’t fully autonomous, of course. A human being is still tasked with replacing the liquor bottles.
When we asked an insider how much the robots cost, the answer was along the lines of “a metric ass-ton.”
Humans and robots have many things in common, including an ongoing need for lubrication.
Tipsy Robot is looking to crowdsource the names of the robots. Siegfried and Roy leap to mind. Find out more on the Tipsy Robot Facebook page.
Tipsy Robot is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Here’s another look at these modern marvels. You may not be able to tell these robot bartenders your problems, but you’ll always know the precise size of your pour.
It came in with an “Aaargh!” and went out with barely a whimper.
The Zombie Apocalypse Store, a quirky Las Vegas retail store and attraction, has closed.
Ah, the memories. The Zombie Apocalypse Store is currently pushing up daisies.
The store called it quits with zero fanfare or news coverage in May 2017 after a liquidation process where fans could purchase zombie and doomsday-inspired tchotchkes at garage sale prices.
Here’s a look back at the Zombie Apocalypse Store.
We’re saddened to learn of the passing of the Zombie Apocalypse Store, an undeniably memorable destination for “biter” fans and hardcore survivalists.
Here’s a photo from 2013, long before the Zombie Apocalypse Store apocalypse.
The store housed a wide variety of zombie-related merchandise like emergency water filtration systems and food supplies, ammo, stun guns and roamer-killing weaponry.
Not gonna lie, it got a little awkward.
The Zombie Apocalypse most recently hosted a 3-D zombie photo studio and zombie shooting gallery. See more.
After a little more than five years of operation (the store opened in November 2011), the once-brisk zombie business began to decay, so the store’s owners decided to pivot to the booming Bitcoin business.
That’s right, the Zombie Apocalypse Store has risen from the dead, becoming Bitcoin Central Las Vegas.
Bitcoin, of course, is what’s known as an alternative currency, or digital currency. Bitcoin got its start in 2009 as the first decentralized cryptocurrency. There’s been a lot of buzz about Bitcoin recently as the digital currency’s value has skyrocketed.
As with so many things in Las Vegas, we didn’t realize how attached we’d become to the Zombie Apocalypse Store until we learned it was gone.
Part tongue-in-cheek, part deadly serious, the Zombie Apocalypse Store was a singular Las Vegas attraction.
Zombies in Las Vegas aren’t going down without a fight, however.
Austin “Chumlee” Russell, one of the stars of the Las Vegas-based “Pawn Stars” reality series, has opened a new candy store, Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard.
The candy shop is located in Pawn Plaza, a shopping complex adjacent to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made, y’know, world famous, on “Pawn Stars.”
During our recent visit, Chumlee himself was greeting fans at the shop and said he expects to do so often.
Chumlee’s candy shop features classics like Turkish Taffy, Astro Pops and Niklnips, at least one of which sounds like a stripper name.
The shop is co-owned by Chumlee and his brother, Sage Russell.
Chumlee’s candy shop is diminutive, as it inhabits a shipping container, but has a solid collection of sweets, including many retro candies sure to strike a nostalgic chord with guests.
The candy selection reflects Chumlee’s personal favorites such as Bottle Caps and Razzles.
It seems somebody’s lollipop has delusions of grandeur.
The prices are a tad on the steep side, so don’t think of it as “candy,” per se. The candy is just an excuse to rub elbows with a reality TV star. They aren’t candy cigarettes, they’re “Pawn Stars” mementos, emphasis on the Mentos. Which we don’t recall seeing at the shop, but just play along.
Oh, that’s right, we went for the candy cigarettes ($2). We also snagged SweeTarts ($2.75, deep breaths), Red Vines ($2.45), Pop Rocks ($1.85) and candy buttons ($1.97).
Don’t judge us. It’s Las Vegas.
Chumlee and his brother Sage were helpful and friendly, indulging requests for autographs and selfies.
Our receipt said “Cashier: Austin Russell,” but his brother was actually the one pulling cashier duty.
There was a short line outside the shop during our visit, mainly because the store can only accommodate six guests at a time.
The shop is open noon to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).
The “Boulevard” in the name is Las Vegas Boulevard, the most glorious of all thoroughfares.
Pawn Plaza has had quite a bit of turnover in recent months, so it’s gratifying to see another new tenant in place.
Here’s hoping Chumlee and his brother can make a go of Chumlee’s Candy on the Boulevard. It’s unknown if “Pawn Stars” will be picked up by the History network for a 15th season, so it’s an ideal time for the show’s stars to explore other ventures.
Bellagio, the Las Vegas resort inspired by a town in Italy, has tapped into its Italian roots again with a new Conservatory & Botanical Gardens display transporting guests to the island of Capri.
The new Italian display at Bellagio Conservatory is like a vacation from your vacation.
Bellagio’s Conservatory rarely disappoints, but it’s great to see an all-new display.
As always, Bellagio’s Conservatory is a free attraction and remains one of the best free things to do in all of Las Vegas.
Bellagio’s horticulture teams has pulled out all the stops for this first-time display. Bellissima, as the kids say.
Bellagio’s new Italian display, which runs through Sep. 9, 2017, covers a lot of ground, with water features, colorful villas and a metric ass-ton of flowers, of course.
Guests enter the vibrant new exhibit through a 26-foot archway. Inside, there’s an eight-foot fountain.
This is a wonderful place to freshen up, as well as to meet some helpful Bellagio security guards.
Nearby is a 22-foot moss-covered fountain that pays tribute to the Fontana dell’Ovato located in Villa d’Este, a 16th century residence in Tivoli.
In case there was any doubt, we knew all that off the top of our head and definitely did not copy and paste it from a news release.
Villa d’Este is a 16th-century villa near Rome and Fontana dell’Ovato means “oval fountains.” Look at you, inadvertently learning things from a Las Vegas blog.
The eight-foot plate, showing an Italian village, is made of lentils, something we never would have known was a thing except for our enduring love of a 1980’s British sitcom, “The Young Ones.” You bet it’s random.
In Greece or Turkey, this would be broken by now.
In the north section of the Conservatory, there’s water streaming from lion and monkey sculptures, as well as four lemon topiaries, whatever those might be.
Bellagio’s horticulture department employs nearly 160 people, all of them with a greener thumb than we’ll ever have.
The lemon topiaries are made of about 1,400 flowers.
“Topiary” comes from the Latin word for an ornamental landscape gardener, “topiarius,” a creator of topia. No, really.
The centerpiece of this seasonal display is a miniature village with 50 villas, each with a terrace.
You can’t spell “Bellagio” without “bella.”
There’s a bell tower, unbrellas, boats and other flourishes like a 50-foot lemon tree and “Lover’s Rock.”
Umbrellas were once called “bumbershoots.” Yeah, we’re spending way too much time on Wikipedia.
Overhead, there’s a sun and moon, each 16 feet tall.
Every guy in every bar in Las Vegas with sports on. Dude, priorities.
The entire Italian display uses an incredible 57,000 flowers and 560 shrubs. Shrubs never get any of the glory at Bellagio’s Conservatory. While they play a supporting role, without shrubs, the Conservatory would be like “Goodfellas” without Joe Pesci or “Jaws” with Robert Shaw.
Shrubs should really look into getting a better P.R. agency.
You can find this piece in the back of the Conservatory. We’d say this was a clever promotion for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, but it was in the works long before the fight was announced.
Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are a must-do in Las Vegas, and the first-time Italian display makes it a must-do all over again.